Cup favourite getting up to speed

The Melbourne Cup favourite Septimus took his first steps outside of the comfort zone he’s enjoyed for the past two weeks, producing a less-than-convincing track gallop at Sandown today.


Septi53827743JH001_Leopardstownmus and stable companions Alessandro Volta and Honolulu worked over 1800m in their first serious piece of work since arriving in Melbourne.

In a gallop assistant trainer Andrew Murphy said would be a competitive one, Septimus gave his training companions a two-length start from the 500m and just shaded them at the finish.

"We wanted them to all finish pretty much upsides each other," Murphy said.

"They did that, so it was what we were looking for."

The work may have been what was ordered by globetrotting trainer Aidan O’Brien, but it was far from startling on the clock.

Septimus ran the final 800m in 50.75s, finishing off with sections of 38.5s and 26.5s for the last 400m, figures which failed to impress veteran clocker Les O’Briem.

The son of Sadler’s Wells also blew hard after the work, suggesting he will benefit from it.

According to O’Briem, one of Melbourne’s most astute track watchers, the work was fair enough "for stayers".

"He’s probably a better racehorse than he is a trackworker," O’Briem said.

The clear impression was that the topweight and favourite for Australia’s greatest race would need to be.

O’Briem qualified his observations with a healthy dose of cynicism as to the frankness of the communications coming from the Irish team behind Septimus.

"You’re going into the unknown, you don’t know them, do you," he said.

"Who’d know if they’ve been eating properly.

"You don’t know, they wouldn’t tell you.

"They’re only going to tell you the good stuff, they’re not going to tell you the grubby stuff."

Not that there is any suggestion of any problems among the O’Brien horses who have all been in apparently superb condition since they arrived at Sandown just over two weeks ago.

Septimus and the other two are expected to step up their work again on Friday after the sharp eye of their trainer is cast over them for the first time in more than a fortnight.

O’Brien arrived in Melbourne today after a weekend at the Breeders’ Cup meeting in California that yielded little joy for him or his Coolmore owners.

A more positive reaction resulted from the work of the Luca Cumani-trained Mad Rush which worked over 1600m in even time today.

The fourth placegetter in the Caulfield Cup, Mad Rush will go to Flemington tomorrow for a gallop and a change of scenery.

Another to impress was the Dermot Weld-trained Profound Beauty who strode over 2400m, quickening up in the middle of her work.

Handler David Phillips said she would work more sharply tomorrow.

By Mike Hedge